Harlequins return to winning ways
October 2, 2008
Harlequins' Gary Botha on the charge at Sixways Stadium
© Getty Images
Harlequins condemned Worcester to a fourth Guinness Premiership defeat of the season after producing some scintillating rugby at Sixways.
Try-hungry Quins collected a bonus point before half-time after touchdowns from wing Ugo Monye (2), centre Gonzalo Tiesi and full-back Mike Brown. Three of those scores came during a devastating five-minute spell when the Warriors defence was blown apart.
Quins fly-half Chris Malone added two penalties and two conversions, leaving Worcester heading into a six-week Premiership break just four points above bottom club Bristol. Matthew Jones did his utmost to keep Warriors in the contest, contributing 18 points that included a well-worked try, while wing Miles Benjamin crossed early in the second half.
But Quins, who moved into the Premiership's top four, three points behind leaders Bath, were not to be denied. Neither Worcester nor Quins had won in the Premiership since mid-September, with both clubs striving to avoid third successive defeats.
Wing Charlie Fellows made his first start for Worcester, replacing fellow Warriors academy product Chris Pennell, while Chris Robshaw took over from injured England international Nick Easter in Quins' back-row. Worcester made a purposeful start, dominating possession from the kick-off and deservedly moving ahead when Jones dropped a goal after six minutes.
But it took Quins only two minutes to respond, capitalising on hesitant work from the restart by Warriors' Australian full-back star Chris Latham. The normally ultra-efficient Latham allowed a hanging kick-off to bounce in front of him, and Quins prospered from a kind bounce, putting Worcester under pressure before Malone's clever kick was gathered by Monye.
Quins, displaying an admirable audacity, then went for the jugular as England scrum-half Danny Care ensured they remained on the front foot. Care's delayed pass was enough to wrong-foot the Worcester defence for Tiesi to claim a second try, converted by Malone, then Brown crossed wide out to keep up an astonishing scoring blitz.
Jones restored a sense of order when he slotted a 16th-minute penalty, yet Worcester had it all to do, trailing 17-6 entering the second quarter. Jones, capped by Wales when his current Worcester boss Mike Ruddock was national coach in 2005, continued to lead a stirring Warriors recovery.
Quins found themselves under prolonged pressure for the first time, and Worcester's patient approach was rewarded when slick passing from number eight Netani Talei and scrum-half Ryan Powell saw Jones snipe through for a try. He also added the extras, meaning he had gone through the entire scoring card of try, conversion, drop-goal and penalty inside 28 minutes.
It was a rip-roaring tussle between two attack-minded teams, yet Quins were not finished as the interval approached.
Malone and Monye repeated their earlier double-act, but Malone's kick was from inside his own half this time around, and Monye had far too much pace for 33-year-old Latham. Referee Wayne Barnes needed assistance from the video official before awarding Quins their bonus-point try, leaving Worcester facing a colossal second-half challenge as Malone's conversion made it 27-13 at the interval.
Worcester needed a good start to the second period, and they delivered within two minutes.
Brown's poor clearance allowed the Warriors to establish a threatening attacking platform, and Latham entered the line at pace to send Benjamin over. Jones converted brilliantly from the touchline, and although Malone kicked a penalty six minutes later, Worcester remained in the contest at 30-20 adrift.
The Warriors, far more fluent than at any time during the first period, consistently threatened Quins' defence as Benjamin frequently appeared through the outside centre channel. Quins though, stuck to their task in defence, and the visitors should have scored when the unlikely figure of lock Jim Evans sparked a counter-attack that almost ended with Monye completing his hat-trick.
Jones had the final word with another penalty, but anything other than a Quins victory would have been an injustice.
Worcester: Latham, Fellows, Rasmussen, Tuitupou, Benjamin, M. Jones, R. Powell, Mullan, Lutui, Tuamoepeau, Rawlinson, Gillies, Horstmann, Wood, Talei.
Replacements: Grove for Rasmussen (66), M. Powell for R. Powell (61), Fortey for Lutui (71), Horsman for Tuamoepeau (52), Cox for Horstmann (38).
Not Used: Kitchener, Crichton.
Harlequins: Brown, Strettle, Tiesi, Turner-Hall, Monye, Malone, Care, Jones, Botha, Ross, Kohn, J. Evans, Robshaw, Skinner, Guest.
Replacements: Amesbury for Strettle (38), Gomarsall for Care (71), Fuga for Botha (63).
Not Used: Lambert, Robson, Davies, Luveniyali.
Sin Bin: Guest (75).
Ref: Wayne Barnes (England).
© PA Sport